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National Heart Month: cardiologists discover the cause of a fluttering heartbeat

Posted Feb 17 2012 4:14am

Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have revealed that the beating of heart cells is controlled by sodiumOne of the chemical components of salt (sodium chloride) and an important blood chemical. and calciumAn element that forms the structure of bones and teeth and is essential to many of the body's functions. ions moving through the cells. It is thought that this discovery can reveal the cause and new treatment targets for cardiacRelating to the heart arrhythmiaAn abnormal heart rhythm..

A heart beat is controlled by atomsThe smallest units of an element. of sodium, potassiumAn element that is one of the main ions, or charged atoms, of intracellular fluid, and is also important in nerve and muscle function. and calcium passing through molecular channels between the heart cells; if these channels malfunction or leak it will lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart rhythm disorder. The scientists found that the molecular channels are highly complex and have an associated role with proteins to prevent the channels from being blocked and to control the flow of atoms into the heart. A lack of sodium, or too much sodium, reaching the cells is caused by a geneticRelating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. mutationA change in the genetic material (DNA) of a cell, or the change this this causes in a characteristic of the individual, which is not caused by normal genetic processes. and leads to two types of arrhythmiaAny form of disturbance to the heart's normal regular beat: Brugada Syndrome and Long Q-T type 3.

Treatments for heart rhythm disorders include catheter ablation and a new treatment called laser balloon ablation . For more information on heart arrhythmias please click here .

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